Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Hip, Hot and 21 (1967)

Hip, Hot and 21 is sexploitation Texas style, but there aren’t any ten-gallon hats in evidence. There’s also a decided lack of plot coherence but that pretty much goes with the territory in the crazy world of 1960s American sexploitation.

This one was made by Dale Berry in 1967, and his cinematic style could best be described as deranged incompetence. Of course if he’d been a French director of art-house movies with a Marxist slant this level of filmic incoherence would have had him hailed as an avant-garde genius (this movie in fact makes marginally more sense than, say, Godard’s 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her ). Sadly though Dale Berry was just a skin-flick director so he missed out on being lionised by the film school crowd.

Hip, Hot and 21 starts out as hicksploitation, with Diane Darcel being forced in to marriage by her toothless alcoholic hillbilly daddy. We’ll find out later that her new husband paid her daddy $50 for her. Now she’s off to the big bad city to start married life, but married life ends for her on her wedding night. Her husband walks out on her.

Luckily she has someone to turn to, a friend of her new husband’s who lives upstairs. Although perhaps a lesbian junkie with criminal connections isn’t the ideal person to turn to for good advice. Pretty soon the movie has moved into the sleazy underworld of bars, hookers and drug deals. What connection her husband had with these people is never made clear, but then very few things in this movie are clear.

There’s a German dope lord named Al who runs a bar. There are assorted lesbian junkies. And there’s Ernie. Ernie is one sick puppy, with a taste for S&M and a tendency to cry a lot. OK, we all have our quirks, but Ernie has a tendency to let his S&M fantasies get out of hand. Badly out of hand. Then somehow our heroine hooks up with another lesbian junkie dope pusher but I have no idea where she came from. She’s just suddenly there.

What little plot there is stops at regular intervals for gratuitous go-go dancing. Mind you, gratuitous go-go dancing is one thing I will never complain about in a movie. Go-go dancing is like a guy in a gorilla suit - it invariably improves any movie. As an added bonus one of the gratuitous go-go dancers is none other than Lorna Maitland, star of several early Russ Meyer movies from his redneck gothic phase. One might also consider it as an added bonus that one of these dance sequences is a topless gratuitous go-go dancing sequence, something which adds a touch of class to any film.

If you think I’m focusing too much on the go-go dancing that’s because it’s really the only justification for this movie’s existence.

After these interruptions we get a bit more of what almost qualifies as plot development. The police are after Al, he’s after some money of his that has gone missing, and finally we get a chase sequence that ends the movie.

The acting is about on a par with the scriptwriting, although I have to admit that Diane Darcel gives it everything she’s got. She has no acting ability but she sure has enthusiasm.

There’s not a huge amount of nudity. The sexual violence almost qualifies it as a roughie although it’s not comparable to excesses you get in, let’s say, a Michael Findlay roughie.

Something Weird (and I’m sure by now it’s not going to come as an earth-shaking revelation that this is a Something Weird DVD release) usually manage to find remarkably good prints of obscure sexploitation flicks but this one is a bit on the rough side. Not that it detracts anything from the movie - the cinematography on this movie is pretty much limited to having the camera pointed in approximately the right direction and (mostly) in focus.

Not exactly a classic from the vaults, definitely not one of Something Weird’s better offerings, but one can forgive a movie for many faults if it includes no less than three go-go dancing sequences.

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